Rescuing childhood in Kanchipuram: Consequences of India?s ?No Work, More School? policy
Miriam Thangaraj

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

Educational Policy
My dissertation investigates the situated impact of compulsory schooling policies enforced over the last decade in a transnational effort to combat child labor a community of silk weavers in Kanchipuram. I draw on over twenty months of ethnographic data, to map the trajectories of child weavers as they are ?rescued? from the loom and ?rehabilitated? in school ? but in the process, are also dislocated into other work spaces, including the unregulated Special Economic Zones that epitomize neoliberal economic development. Drawing on Anthropology of Policy and Childhood Studies, I explicate the schooling of ?childhood? as a neoliberal technology for the ordering of contemporary life in Kanchipuram. As global norms about the appropriate spaces of childhood and appropriate modes of protection and participation travel to Kanchipuram via schooling policies, they rework the social and intergenerational relations that constitute weaving communities by reconstructing notions of appropriate childhood. My project offers a fine-grained ethnographic account of how children negotiate the move from loom to school and all the in-between spaces. In the process, it offers a critical analysis of schooling practices as they enforce particular constructions of education and childhood. Even as my research raises troubling questions about transnational policies ? and policing ? that enforce particular constructions of education and childhood in Kanchipuram, it also presents an opportunity to rethink and to relationally think about schooling, in ways that support child workers and their families, as they make the best of the circumstances of their life.
About Miriam Thangaraj

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